Marc Chagall lived in Saint-Paul de Vence from 1948 until his death in 1985. The French Riviera attracts the artist of Belarusian origin very early. He discovered the region in the 1920s on the occasion of travels through France. But it was only in 1950, at the age of 63 years, that he settled in there. He resided in Vence until 1966, then in Saint-Paul de Vence where he died in 1985.
Chagall and Nice
Chagall is attached to the city of Nice and the French Riviera. The eye of the painter is attracted by the lush vegetation. Important source of inspiration is the flower market of the ‘Cour Saleya’. We find the bouquets of colorful flowers in the works of the artist.
The blue occupies a great place in the works of the artist. It is not only the artist’s favorite color, it is also the inspiration of the southern Light and the very incarnation of the Mediterranean.
The city of Nice shows a great attachment to the work of Chagall. In 1952, an important retrospective of his work, including numerous paintings from the Russian period, more recent works of Biblical inspiration, as well as decorations and costumes of ballets, is held on the Promenade des Anglais, in the gallery of Ponchettes. Other exhibits will be held at the same location or at the Navy Gallery.
In the early 1960s, mayor Jean Medecin proposed to Chagall to create a poster for the city. Chagall represents the Bay of Angels. Above the city, watch, like a goddess, a mermaid holding a huge bouquet of flowers. Under the image we read: «Nice Sun Flowers» With the signature of the artist. Published in 1962 by the Commissariat General of Tourism, the poster, was broadcast in foreign countries in order to promote nice and the Côte d’azur.
In addition to the temporary exhibitions, Nice has the privilege of hosting a perennial work by Chagall: The Message of Ulysses, a monumental mosaic made in 1968 with the Mosaicists Heidi and Lino Melano for the Faculty of Law then under construction.
Today the most visible witness of the links woven between Chagall and the city of Nice is the National museum dedicated to the work of the artist. On a plot of land offered by the city on the hill of Cimiez, the architect André Hermant raises a building with sober and clean lines. The space is intended to welcome the ‘ biblical message ‘, 17 works offered to France by Marc Chagall and his wife Valentina.
The museum was inaugurated in 1973.
The permanent collection of the Marc Chagall National Museum is the largest public collection of works by the artist in the world. It houses paintings, gouaches, drawings, washes and pastels exposed on 900sqm. The two halls devoted to the biblical message are permanent. 12 large paintings, illustrating the first two books of the Old Testament: Genesis and Exodus are exposed in the first room forming three polygons. The other room in the shape of a hexagon presents five compositions on the theme of the song of Solomon.
The other rooms are devoted to temporary exhibitions. The auditorium is famous for its three large stained glass windows that evoke the creation of the world.
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